Tuesday, November 29, 2022

Staff Recommendations, Week of November 29, 2022

Another light week for staff recs. But light can be fun, right?!

In new books, Oli suggests you check out this fun graphic novel for middle grade and older readers - Dungeons & Dragons: Dungeon Club: Roll Call, written by Molly Knox Ostertag, and illustrated by Xanthe Bouma. Oli says: "Best friends Jess and Olivia have played Dungeons and Dragons together for ages, creating stories together as Jess plays a character and Olivia conjures dungeons to explore and monsters to fight. When a new school year begins and Olivia wants to invite more people into their campaign, Jess doesn't understand why it can't just be the two of them, like always. This is a fun and meaningful graphic novel about friendship, inclusion, and (of course) battling monsters. I especially liked the D&D stats showing up next to people they encounter at middle school, showing bullying potential and humor in the same way that moral alignment and special attacks are displayed for monsters in their campaign. D&D fans and newcomers alike can dive into this tale of middle school social worlds and high fantasy adventures."

You're looking at the cover photo to the left and you're thinking, that is not a new book. But! It is a book recommended by one of our newest booksellers, Keith. So we welcome him to the blog with his write-up for Herman Melville's classic Moby-Dick, one of his all-time faves. Keith says: "The sheer verve of Melville’s prose will knock you sideways. He had a virtuosic command of the English language, and Moby-Dick features some of the most imaginative, electrifying, rapturous passages you could ever hope to read. It’s also an astoundingly capacious and wise book, brimming with natural history and insightful meditations on the inherent equality of all people, the eternal conflict between personal will and human destiny, and the all-consuming fire of revenge. In short, this is the result of a genius applying his talents to the most enduring of raw materials. I stand in awe of this novel."

Kathy also has a staff rec this week, for the recently released book Hester by Laurie Lico Albanese. Kathy says: "An engrossing book that imagines a back story for Nathaniel Hawthorne's novel The Scarlet Letter. Isobel (a proxy for Hester Prynne) is a skilled seamstress who has synesthesia, causing her mind to link letters on a page and words people speak to particular colors and hues. She emigrates to Salem from Scotland with her husband and is soon on her own, struggling to make a living and build relationships with people in the town who are suspicious of newcomers. A chance meeting with Nat Hathorne (later Hawthorne) leads to unintended consequences, and Isobel must turn to her new friends for help. Isobel's synesthesia is used to wonderful effect throughout, as is the history of the Salem witch trials and of the underground railroad."

And let's wrap up with one from Chris, who wants you to read My Pinup, the recent book by essayist Hilton Als. Chris says: "What a moving, soulful, rangy little book. Als’s mini-memoir begins with meditations on Prince as queer Black icon, and from there he explores the artist’s performances (and obliterations) of dichotomies between masculinity and femininity, black and white, the sacred and profane. The way Prince made all of us fall in love with him. In his writing for The New Yorker, Als is especially adept at understanding the drives, desires, and wounds that shape an artist’s personality, how they influence her work, and in turn, how that work shapes and influences the culture at large. In this book, he doubles his gaze back (and forth and back and forth) from Prince to himself to contemplate how the artist’s transformations influenced his own becoming. My Pinup is an elegant ode to one of America’s greatest artists and a deeply personal account of the love that artist allowed a writer to crack open in himself."

And that's it! Roll your way into Boswell to check these books out. And keep an eye on this blog, as we'll soon start posting our yearly roundups of Boswellian Top 5 picks.

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