Tuesday, December 6, 2016

Boswell Staff Top 5 for 2016 Part 2

We are now a few more days closer to the end of the year, so I will commence with more top 5 selections from our staff.

Today's theme: Booksellers that start with the letter C:

Caroline's Top 5 Books of 2016:

LaRose by Louise Erdich (Washington Post Notable Fiction 2016 & NYT Notable Books 2016)

"LaRose is a portrait of the oldest and most intuitive form of justice - that of the human heart. Tracing generations of a family and the wounds that mark them, Louise Erdrich delivers characters entangled in a web of their own making. When one grave tragedy threatens to unravel everything they know, the families turn to ancient tradition to guide them through their pain. In the name LaRose lies the promise of healing, and it becomes clear that hurt does not belong to one person alone. With sensitivity and lyric wisdom, Erdrich explores the contours of love and loss in lines that dance off the page. She leaves you with a better understanding of community, and a wash of relief after weathering a storm with people you've come to hold most dear." $27.99 $22.39 in the shop.

Pond by Claire-Louise Bennett

"Technically set in a rural, coastal village in Ireland, it's perhaps more accurate to place this debut in the self-contained space of a mind. We're delivered to the quiet and delicate dreamscape of a young woman's interior, where we encounter musings on nature, career, sexuality, and the everyday that pay special tribute to the minutiae of it all. Bennett has created a new language for our most deeply-experienced solitude, and in so doing captured what lives buried just beneath the surface of our own consciousness. Painted in 20 short vignettes, this work moves both forward and backward in time, exploring one woman's interactions with herself and her surroundings in a way that's never been done before." $26.00 $20.80 in the shop.

SwingTime by Zadie Smith (Washington Post Top 10 2016 & NYT Notable Book 2016)
"Here she is again, in all her glory. Zadie Smith turns our attention in Swing Time to two girls growing up in a poor neighborhood in London, keepers of each other as much as they are their own selves. Inseparable in childhood, a shared dream to become dancers sets a foundation for their respective journeys, Tracey to live out exactly that, and our unnamed narrator to study its different threads – rhythm, song, blackness, and the meaning behind it all. As adult realities weigh in, the two spin apart. Our narrator is increasingly swept up in her new life as assistant to a famous music star, and moments with Tracey come less and less. But rather than fading from focus, she haunts our periphery until she's re-affirmed her place in our world. This book captures the magic that so often exists within female friendships without romanticizing it, and so just as we see their relationship for the well of strength that it is, we're also made to understand its capacity for violence. With the hard-hitting insights we've come to expect, Zadie Smith explores the making of a self, and reminds us that roots will never disappear." $27.00 $21.60 in the shop.
Rounding out her Top 5 of 2016 are In Other Words by Jhumpa Lahiri ($26.95) and The Story of My Teeth by Caleria Luiselli ($16.95).
Chris's Top 5 Books of 2016:
Allegheny Front by Matthew Neill Null
"History marks its territory. The past scars the land, erodes rocky soil and streams. It lives in the shape of boulders and peaks. In Null's stories, people shudder against the seismic pressure of time that shapes their lives in the ancient Allegheny Mountains of West Virginia. This collection is hard, deep, and true as the mountains' darkest hollows, as Null sweeps through moments in the last century, making each feel as urgent as your foot caught in the rocks and your body pulled under swirling white water rapids." $15.95

"In this haunting debut Dana Cann has created a hybrid genre, the supernatural suburban suspense, a dope fiend domestic drama. In the wake of two seemingly unrelated deaths, the lives of three survivors are unhinged, a woman drifting into addiction and a couple’s marriage dissolving. In deftly plotted chapters these lives intertwine as the characters’ grief and guilt manifest as ghosts both metaphoric and real. The emotions are big and complicated, drawn so expertly the discomfort of their experience is felt before it’s understood, a feat not easily accomplished. The novel drives to its conclusion like a traditional mystery, but the question of ‘whodunit’ is an afterthought to Cann asking how we repair our lives after bearing witness to death." $15.95
Here I Am by Jonathan Safran Foer (Washington Post & NYT Notable Book 2016)
“In the space of four weeks a marriage crumbles, leaving each member of the Bloch family adrift, grasping for one another from their own separate worlds. Layered into this family's story is a natural disaster and Israeli conflict, and the personal and political are interwoven to raise questions of self-definition, heritage, and nationalism. While the book doesn't shy away from the political, Foer's exploration of these ideas serves a larger purpose. The book investigates our ability to be fully present in our lives and to recognize the moments that mark the beginning of an inevitable end - of a childhood, a marriage, a life, and a nation. A searching novel of how we live when our lives as we know them cease to be, Foer has turned in a masterful performance, one of great depth of feeling for those who want to feel it all, that should cement his reputation as one of America's finest writers.” $28.00 $22.40 in the shop.
Rounding out his Top 5 of 2016 are The Cook Up by D. Watkins ($26.00) and Megg and Mogg in Amsterdam and Other Stories by Simon Hanselmann ($19.99).
Conrad's Top 5 Books of 2016:
God is Round by Juan Villoro
"Javier Marias mused that the typical soccer fan partakes in sport as a weekly return to childhood: full of wonderment, and enthralled by heroes engaged in contests with no gray areas, only clear winners and losers. Juan Villoro replies: "In his or her lesser moments, the football fan is an ogling imbecile, mouth full of pie, head full of useless information." This is a sports book that appeals to the cynical temperament of the most jaded fan (so I loved it, of course). God is Round explores with a jaundiced and unblinking eye the players, fans and history of the world's most popular obsession. Villoro revels in the telling details, for example the notoriously histrionic and melodramatic Argentine great Diego Maradona (author of what is considered by many to be the greatest goal ever scored - 'the goal of the century' - and also the most infamous cheat ever perpetrated - 'the hand of God' - both in the same game): "On the island of the pitch, Maradona showed exemplary humility; away from it, he exploded like a dramatic supernova." Sports writing doesn't get any better than this." $16.99
The Nix by Nathan Hill  (Washington Post & NYT Notable Book 2016)
“The nix (or nisse) are Norwegian house spirits that usually live in your basement. For the most part they ignore you and you ignore them, but if you do something to tick them off: say spill water on their feet or betray their trust in some seemingly insignificant way, they will haunt you and your descendants for generations. Minor actions lead to major repercussions. Small decisions made on the spur of the moment double back to torment us years later, and become the overwhelming forces that shape the quality of our life. Such is the spirit, and the choices, that come to haunt three generations of Andressons: Faye, her son Samuel (who she abandoned when he was eleven) and her father Frank, who made a poor choice as a young man in Norway in 1940, and has been paying the price ever since. This family, as unlikable as they are, as pathetically inept at life as they are, will keep you entranced as the 600+ pages fly by, and you resist the temptation to skip ahead. You will devour this book.” $27.95 $22.36 in the shop.

Rounding out his Top 5 of 2016 are The Inquisitor's Tale by Adam Gitwitz ($17.99), Moonglow by Michael Chabon ($28.99 $23.19 in the shop) and Thus Bad Begins by Javier Marias ($27.95 $22.36 in the shop).

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