Bookseller Recommendations: November
This month’s recommendations from our bookstore staff feature foldout folktale monsters, reflections on freeing ourselves from legacies of harm, lovingly-told tales from the basketball court, and unusual, textured stories of women and mystery. Each of these books is uniquely suited to be revisited—all four are made up of stories, histories, and ideas that merit our returning to them over and over again, to lending them out to friends and family, to unpeeling a new layer with every re-read. We like to think that makes these titles a good fit for this season, when we find ourselves caught between bustle and hibernation.
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Here are this month’s recommendations, in which four real people suggest good books we think you might like, too. Read on!
Inside the Villains
by Clotilde Perrin
Gecko Press | September 2018 | $21.99
This book takes three great villains—The Wolf, The Giant, and The Witch—and provides a biography and fun facts for each. My favorite part is the intricate and detailed portraits of each villain with folds, flaps, and pulls. For The Giant, there are kids hiding in his boot next to knives; The Witch has a trove of treasures under her feathered cloak; The Wolf has a small stomach you can pull out to see the last thing he ate! This book reminds of The Stinky Cheese Man, but better. The art is beautiful and takes a very cool spin on the classic fairy tales I grew up with. Buy now»
Heavy: An American Memoir
by Kiese Laymon
Scribner | October 2018 | $26.00
A devastating and brilliant new memoir whose many praises I can’t sing adequately in this space, so trust me. At its core, Heavy examines how the abusive legacies of American culture take root in our lives, causing us to harm ourselves and our loved ones. I say “us” because I love this book and everyone should read it, but it’s also specifically about black people, black families, black children, being black in the American South and everywhere else in this country. We have a responsibility to each other. That truth, and this book, are weights worth shouldering. Buy now»
Basketball: A Love Story
edited by Jackie MacMullan, Rafe Bartholomew, and Dan Klores
Crown Archetype | September 2018 | $30.00
Basketball: A Love Story is a terrific book—really, it’s an oral history lesson compiled from interviews with 165 of the greatest, most talented people to touch the game. The book is best at giving the reader a sense of the sport and its people building on one another. You’ll read about the different coaches, mostly from HBCUs, who created the zone press defense; then Nolan Richardson talks about his Arkansas teams inventing “forty minutes of hell.” The aspects of culture and sport coming together is a treat. You will learn from this book and marvel at it and laugh with it. It is so much fun. Buy now»
The Isle of Youth
by Laura van den Berg
FSG Originals | November 2013 | $14.00
Laura van den Berg’s female characters navigate unusual inner and outer landscapes: sisters who operate as South Florida private eyes, a mother-daughter duo who run a magic show con, a youthful gang of gorilla-mask-wearing bank robbers; there’s even a woman who ends up following a troupe of acrobats around Paris after her husband leaves her. My favorite, “Antarctica,” about a sister investigating her brother’s death, is so saturated with grief, mystery, and regret, I was not surprised when it was also anthologized in Best American Mystery Stories. I’m amazed by how these stories are simultaneously fun and melancholic. Bewitching! Buy now»