7 books recommended by local booksellers.

7 books recommended by local booksellers.

Category #4 for the 2016 MMD Reading Challenge is “a book recommended by your local librarian or bookseller.”

Librarians and booksellers handle an astonishing variety of titles in their daily work, and they talk—daily—with the people who read them. They’re a fount of information. This category will push you to take advantage of it.

I fervently hope you have a local bookstore or library you can turn to for recommendations—but if you don’t, you can borrow my list.

Series: 7 books recommended by my local bookstore
My Brilliant Friend (Neapolitan Novels Book 1)

My Brilliant Friend (Neapolitan Novels Book 1)

Author:
I picked this up from my local bookstore's "blind date with a book" shelf: the bookseller had described it as "a masterpiece you probably haven’t read yet. Rich, intense, beautiful." This is the first installment (published in 2011) of Ferrante’s Neapolitan Quartet: the final novel was published last September. The quartet revolves around the friendship between Elena and Lila; My Brilliant Friend begins when the girls are in first grade and carries them through adolescence. Thought-provoking, beautifully written, realistic enough to be quite difficult in places. More info →
Buy from Amazon Kindle
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State of Wonder

State of Wonder

Author:
This is one of my favorite Patchett novels, and it's been on my mind because of the terrific story about it in Big Magic by Elizabeth Gilbert. In this tense adventure story, a staid Minnesota researcher travels into the heart of the Amazon to find out how her colleague died while checking in on their pharmaceutical company's top secret research project in the jungle. Patchett combines big business, fertility, conspiracy, and anacondas to fascinating ends. More info →
Buy from Amazon Kindle
Buy from Amazon
Buy from Audible.com
I Wear the Black Hat: Grappling with Villains (Real and Imagined)

I Wear the Black Hat: Grappling with Villains (Real and Imagined)

In this nonfiction work, Klosterman examines our cultural attitudes towards villains: why do we disdain Machiavelli but root for Batman? Why do kids love Luke Skywalker while adults secretly root for Darth Vader? Along the way Klosterman touches on a wide variety of cultural figures: Kanye West, the Eagles, Tiger Woods, O.J. Simpson, Bill Clinton, NWA, Chevy Chase. Packed with pithy one-liners, and loved and recommended by an astonishing variety of readers. My husband and I both loved this, for different reasons. More info →
Buy from Amazon Kindle
Buy from Amazon
Wildwood

Wildwood

Author:
Imagine a modern-day Narnia, from the frontman for indie folk rock band The Decemberists. Twelve-year-old Prue McKeel is forced to embark on her adventure when crows snatch her baby brother and carry him into the Impassable Wilderness at the heart of Portland, Oregon. Meloy combines adventure, fantasy, environmentalism, and a touch of satire to create an engaging middle grade novel. More info →
Buy from Amazon Kindle
Buy from Amazon
Buy from Audible.com
Gods in Alabama

Gods in Alabama

Part love story, part murder mystery, pure Southern fiction. After spending ten years in Chicago, hiding from her past, Arlene returns home to face a secret she's been hiding since she fled town after high school, and introduce her black boyfriend to her racist mother. Football, dysfunctional families, and colorful characters landed this one on the staff picks shelf. More info →
Buy from Amazon Kindle
Buy from Amazon
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Brown Girl Dreaming

Brown Girl Dreaming

Forget everything you've heard about this being an "important" book, and if you're not the poetry type, pretend you don't know this is a memoir-in-verse. All you need to know is this story is fantastic. Woodson tells the story of her childhood, moving with her family (or part of it) from South Carolina to New York City and back again, sharing her observations through a young girl's eyes with a writer's sensibility. If you don't think it's for you, read the first two pages—and then decide. National Book Award winner. More info →
Buy from Audible.com
Buy from Amazon Kindle
Buy from Amazon
Buy from Barnes and Noble Nook
H Is for Hawk

H Is for Hawk

Author:
This memoir from a Cambridge professor landed on more than 25 "best of the year" lists. After her father dies, McDonald stumbles upon a unique way to assuage her grief: she purchases and attempts to train an English goshawk with the deceptively quaint name Mabel. McDonald had been a falconer since she was a child, but her hawk is wild, unpredictable, irascible—as is her grief. Part memoir, part nature story: her tale is moving, poignant, and surprising. More info →
Buy from Amazon
Buy from Amazon Kindle
Buy from Audible.com

What are you reading for this category? Have you found an amazing read at your local bookstore? Tell us all about it in comments!

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50 comments

  1. Sara K says:

    My city is sadly lacking in independent bookstores, and even though my librarians recognize me on site I haven’t really connected with one and talked book recommendations.

    That Ann Patchett book looks really good! I have Bel Canto on my TBR list already so I think I need to give her a try!

    • Anne says:

      The critics mostly said State of Wonder was better but Bel Canto remains my favorite Patchett novel. (Although she has a new one coming out this fall, finally!)

      • Sara K says:

        I went to my local used bookstore today and just happened to find a copy of Bel Canto for $3! I also picked up a copy of In the Garden of Beasts by Erik Larson, also for $3. Oh happy day! I am especially looking forward to reading Bel Canto!

  2. Heidi says:

    “H is for Hawk” is on my table right now (and due back tomorrow — better get reading!) and “Wildwood” will be there next. As a Portland resident I can attest there is a wilderness in the heart of the city, a wood like no other.

  3. Pam F. says:

    I really wanted to love Wildwood (the cover is gorgeous and I usually love that type of book), but I couldn’t stand it. And my husband thought that he would like H is for Hawk, but he said the audio was really slow. Maybe it would’ve been better to read. I Wear the Black Hat caught my eye, maybe I’ll try that next.

    • Anne says:

      I loved H is for Hawk but it took me about four months to read it, a couple of pages at a time. I know that’s typical reading behavior for some people, but it’s not for me!

    • Amy says:

      I fell in *love* with the characters in My Brilliant Friend. It was an un-put-downable for me, as were all of the subsequent books. I *ate* those books. They were indescribably delicious and intensely real and gut-wrenching. I finished them and sighed in despair, “why bother trying to write anything? I can never write like that.” 😉 What I want to know is, where can I find other books like My Brilliant Friend?!

  4. Meghan says:

    The Ann Patchett and the Elena Ferrante are both on my list! I’ve heard if you like H is for Hawk, you should check out Hammer Head by Nina McLaughlin.
    I love Brown Girl Dreaming, and a really great grownup readalike (with grownup content, so be warned) is The Women of Brewster Place by Gloria Naylor. Such a tremendously beautiful and important book (it won the National Book Award for first book when it came out in 1982, and Oprah produced the 1989 miniseries adaptation).

  5. Corby says:

    Well working at a library I love talking books with patrons. I always ask them to give me a recommendation and ask why they liked it. Upon a co-worker’s recommendation I’m reading something I probably would not have picked up, Robopocalypse.

  6. Elizabeth Lance says:

    I read Brown Girl Dreaming as a book you can finish in a day. I didn’t finish in a day, but it didn’t take me long. I highly recommend this read. I don’t read much poetry, but this told a story that is compelling and touching.

  7. GothamGirl says:

    Great recommendations, however, I find it strange that you only provide links to Amazon. If I were a local bookseller, I would be miffed.

  8. Marie says:

    I’m constantly recommending the Elena Ferrante quartet to friends, family, really anyone who will listen! Have you read the rest of the series?

    And as a middle school librarian, Brown Girl Dreaming is one of the first books I always recommend to students (or teachers!)!

  9. Anne says:

    I asked my librarians, and I got two different ladies’ picks!

    1) The first librarian gave me her favorite pick of 2015: Red Queen by Victoria Aveyard, which I started but had to give back (hello, other people’s holds, argh! lol). She also recommended Kristin Cashore’s Graceling series.

    2) The other librarian recommended The Hired Girl by Laura Amy Schlitz, The Nightingale by Kristin Hannah, and All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr. She loves historical fiction!

    I put them all on my list but haven’t dived in yet, save for Red Queen, which I’ll have to check out again soon.

    • Girl in Boston says:

      I’ve read all 3 of the historical novels and I would say both the Nightingale and All the Light are excellent. The Hired Girl was good but not as good (although, it is shorter and less dense because it is YA!).

  10. Julia says:

    I bought the State of Wonder ages ago but I’ve been saving it to read later. Sounds like a good summer read though!

    My local library recommended The Sage of Waterloo by Leona Francombe. It’s a debut novel that reflects on the effects of war and human history on nature, told through the eyes of a rabbit. It’s on hold but it sounds pretty good!

  11. liz n. says:

    Daniel at Half Price Books recommended three books for this category, so I cheated a bit and fit one of them into “A book that intimidates you,” but I haven’t gotten to that category, yet.

    The Shadow of the Wind was my book for the booksellers’ recommendation. As usual, Dan chose a good one.

  12. Julie says:

    Our library’s pick for One Book One Town, a community event held each year was “So You’ve Been Publicly Shamed” and since I had just heard about it on your podcast I picked up and I am glad I did. I loved State of Wonder, H is for Hawk and Brown Girl Dreaming. My Brillant Friend has been on my To Read list for a long time. Maybe this year!

  13. Melanie says:

    There’s an independent bookstore in my town that I’ve never visited. This post has inspired me to visit and ask for some recommendations.

    Last night I listened to the latest episode of What Should I Read Next? shortly before bed, and then I had this dream wherein I was on a panel and there were a bunch of books I’d read. Each person on the panel had to come up with a new title for the book and the winner got to tell the audience all about the book and why they loved it. Super random and also so funny that telling people about books I love is literally the stuff of my dreams!

  14. Anna says:

    My Library had The Humans by Matt Haig as its book of the month. Not something I’d normally go for but I loved it. Fantastic idea and very funny.

  15. Karrie says:

    Some interesting book ideas! Thanks! I used to drive to a bookstore in a nearby small town every couple months, just because the man who owned it was AMAZING at recommending books. I could tell him books that my children, husband or I had liked and he could suggest a new book or series to try and without fail it would be a winner. I loaded up on books for all of us each visit.I discovered so many favorite authors because of him. Was so sad when he retired and the shop went out of business a year or so later. I am sure it was because the new owner did not have his special talent.

  16. Katie Roper says:

    Anne! I cheated a little on this category, and I chose a book that you recommended awhile ago to fulfill it: Bel Canto. I am working my way around to it. I should get there soon! I took a short detour from my set reading lists to read some Harry Potter, since he provides such good company when I get a little lonely. I also have a few books that I want to get to while it’s still spring!

  17. Jenn Warren says:

    How can I get a hold of the story about State of Wonder in Big Magic? I adored State of Wonder, but unlike the rest of women in America I’m completely uninterested in Big Magic. Are the two authors friends?

    • Sarah says:

      Funny. I had the opposite reaction. Couldn’t stand State of Wonder but loved Big Magic. Yes, I think the authors are friendly, and Gilbert explains how the idea for the novel abandoned her and took up with Patchett after she neglected it. Interesting concept.

  18. Jeanette says:

    For Category 4, I’m reading ‘Crooked Letter, Crooked Letter’ by Tom Franklin. This is a recommendation from my bookseller. The 7 on your list sound like some I need to add on my TBR list. Last year I attended the Writers Digest Conference in New York and Jacqueline Woodson was one of the speakers. She was awesome. She read passages from her book – Brown Girl Dreaming. The passages alone were very moving and heartfelt.

  19. Jenn Warren says:

    Please give yourself the gift of listening to Brown Girl Dreaming. Woodson reads it, and it is even more amazing this way.

  20. Karen says:

    Could we choose a book for this category from any of the books you recommend here on your blog or books you recommend on the WSIRN podcast? 🙂

      • Karen says:

        So glad to know this can be a backup option. 🙂 I haven’t had much success so far unfortunately for the bookseller option. I did get some recommendations from a couple of people that work at the library but neither one of them are a librarian (as in the titled position).

        • Karen says:

          Yay! I was able to contact the other bookseller that’s here locally and she already recommended a couple of books and is going to give me some more recommendations when I talk with her next. I’m very excited! 🙂

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