Summer Book Bingo: Recommended by an Independent Bookseller
July 27, 2018
Still need to fill your “recommended by an independent bookseller” square for 2018 Summer Book Bingo?
SAL spoke with several Puget Sound bookstore owners and employees who are on a mission to put the right books in the right hands. Read on for San Francisco activists, survivalist families, a Victorian haunting, and more bookseller-approved picks from BookTree Kirkland, Elliott Bay Book Company, Magnolia’s Bookstore, Phinney Books, and Queen Anne Book Company.
Chris Jarmick, BookTree Kirkland
The Extraordinary Life of Sam Hell by Robert Dugoni. A poignant, sensitive, and utterly compelling coming-of-age story written by an author best known for the excellent Tracy Crosswhite mystery-thriller series. This is a somewhat personal literary book that deals with themes of prejudice, bullying, love, and more. Put it at the top of your must-read-soon list!
A Gentleman in Moscow by Amor Towles. One of the most entertaining books I’ve read in the last couple of years. A unique premise, wonderful setting, memorable characters, and the last hundred pages will have you on the edge of your seat!
Lincoln in the Bardo by George Saunders. An experimental historical novel which, after 60 or so pages, will likely hook you. It’s moving, it’s tragic, but at times hysterically funny, too. It’s unique, innovative, clever, and memorable. This is the first full-length novel by Saunders, who is considered one of our best short story writers. It won the Man Booker Prize.
Fascism: A Warning by Madeleine Albright. An insightful, cohesive book that is part informed speculation and part indispensable history lesson. There are also poignant personal memories shared making it more readable and memorable than most ‘current events’ books of recent times.
Karen Maeda Allman, Elliott Bay Book Company
Educated by Tara Westover. I read this on a flight to London and was captivated by it. She’s a young FLDS (Fundamentalist Mormon) woman who manages to make her way to Harvard and then Cambridge, despite having had little formal schooling. In the end, she must choose family or knowledge about history, science, literature, and the world.
How to Write an Autobiographical Novel by Alexander Chee. One of my all-time favorite writers shares stories about his time as a waiter (at Wm F. Buckley’s House), a bookseller/activist in San Francisco, and the writing of his first novel, Edinburgh (one of the first and only books by and about a Korean American gay man).
Georgiana Blomberg, Magnolia’s Bookstore
My Absolute Darling by Gabriel Tallent. Totally blown away by the power of this book—the story of Turtle, a 14-year-old girl growing up isolated after her mother’s death, with her brilliant but tortured survivalist father on the northern California coast. The sense of place, the story, and the writing are all extraordinary, and set this title apart from any others I’ve read in a while. It’s dark, but brilliant and beautiful, too.
The Essex Serpent by Sarah Perry. Steeped in Victorian detail but written in a distinctly fresh voice, this novel will transport you directly to the foggy, salty Essex marsh. There questions of science and faith, medicine and ritual, love and friendship are centered on the mystery of what lies in the water. This is a big novel of ideas, but also a vivid and compelling story.
Liz Goodwin & Tom Nissley, Phinney Books
The Women in Black by Madeleine St. John. This simply perfect comedy, published in 1993 and set in the ladies’ frock department of an Australian department store in the ’50s, is a sly and heartening reminder thathope is not always misplaced.
Bad Blood: Secrets and Lies in a Silicon Valley Startup by John Carreyrou. A true story of Silicon Valley workaholic puffery gone very bad, made even more delicious by the big names hoodwinked by Theranos, a fraudulent billion-dollar health-care startup, and even more disturbing by the lives their lies put at risk.
Janis Segress, Queen Anne Book Company
There There by Tommy Orange. In this debut novel, Orange tells a story like none other, one that grabs you from the beginning and won’t let go at the end. A story of alienation in your own country, of the beauty and ugliness of family, of traditions and ties and living your truth. Tommy’s voice is utterly unique and wholly satisfying. Don’t miss this book.