My husband says I have become harder to buy books for in the past decade; part of that is because I read so much and attend so many bookstore events, and I attend more events, and buy more books, than I used to. I’ve also honed my taste from reading submissions, and have a clearer, more confident voice when it comes to speaking up about what I like.
To find the perfect gifts for me, my husband has taken to shopping at local bookstores, where (as it happens) the staff often knows me and can recommend accordingly. And even if they don’t, he’s able to explain my taste well enough that these amazing people can help him find just the right thing–something I haven’t yet read but (in most cases) is on my radar.
At Annie Bloom’s Books, he consulted with Michael–a friend!–to pick This Is Your Life, Harriet Chance, by Jonathan Evison, one I’ve been eyeing because of its buzz–it’s a Pacific Northwest Booksellers Award finalist for 2015–and its gorgeous cover. I’m so happy to own this one. Moreover, when Michael recommends a book with a shelf talker, I usually find it’s my taste, too.
Helen Macdonald’s much raved about H Is for Hawk came home from Broadway Books. I’ve admired this cover, and even picked the book up maybe a half-dozen times, but since I don’t usually read nonfiction, I never committed. I’m really excited to dive in and experience it for myself.
My Brilliant Friend, the first in Elena Ferrante’s four-part Neapolitan series, came home from Powell’s Books, after consultation with Naomi, a staffer in the blue room (fiction). Due to traveling logistics, I opened the package before Christmas, started reading on the airplane, and kept reading during my trip, whereupon I ran out of pages and took the family on a field trip to find indie bookstores in Florida, which were great, but one carried mostly home and garden selections, and the others had the first, third, and fourth books of the Neapolitan series–not the one I desperately needed. Our third stop, a Barnes & Noble, had The Story of a New Name, part two, in stock, and yes, it’s clear, I have succumbed to #ferrantefever.
This fascinating article about Elena Ferrante, her books’ popularity, and the mystery behind her identity appeared in the New York Daily News today.
Dream House by Catherine Armsden, published by Berkeley’s Yellow Pear Press, also came home from Powell’s, this one on my request. I really enjoy discovering new presses, and this relatively new one is distributed by PGW, a sister company to Legato, which distributes Forest Avenue Press titles.
It makes me ridiculously happy that booksellers do what they do, every day, and can pass their passion for books on to customers. As a publisher, I’m even more certain than ever that bookseller support still makes all the difference in terms of how a title does. And as a reader, I’m thrilled to have new worlds to explore as 2016 arrives, ones that were chosen with care for me.