Sunday, May 28, 2023

Staff Recommendations, Week of May 30, 2023

The last week of May, can you believe it? Well, you'd better believe we've got staff recommendations for you this week. Here are some books we loved to kick off your summer reading.

Daniel Goldin recommends Good Night, Irene, the latest novel from Pulitzer finalist Luis Alberto Urrea, author of books such as The House of Broken Angels and The Devil's Highway. Of this new book, Daniel says: "Irene Woodward and Dorothy Dunford bond in training when both join the Red Cross to support the troops by running a coffee wagon. They are supposed to work in teams of three, but they just can’t seem to keep a third – maybe it’s because their friendship is so strong that there just isn’t room for one more in the truck. Outside the truck, their lives are filled with vibrant characters, some romance, and of course, the horrors of war. Urrea’s new novel is classic historical fiction, a change of style, but it shouldn’t be a surprise to fans – his prose has veered from journalism to magical realism to domestic dramedy. And I don’t really want to give anything away here, but I kept thinking it will all be worthwhile if Urrea stuck the landing, and I’m happy to say he sure did!"

Now we go to Kay Wosewick for her words on Tracking Giants: Big Trees, Tiny Triumphs, and Misadventures in the Forest, the new book by big-tree tracker (yes, that's a real thing, and yes, it's as neat as it sounds) Amanda Lewis. Kay says: "Amanda is chatty, full of energy, and funny. Intelligent? Initially, I’m doubtful. Amanda moves to Vancouver and, at the suggestion of a friend, takes up a quest to see every Champion tree (the largest of its species) in British Columbia. She heads off with no plant identification experience, either a lousy ID book or complete inability to use it, no measuring tools, and location guides often 10 to 20+ years old with wrong or missing reference points and/or badly written directions. At first, Amanda is happy to cross a tree off her list even if she’s not certain it’s a match; it might not be big enough, or maybe it’s an entirely different tree. As she gains ID skills and brings proper tools, she finds some Champions, but also discovers others have fallen or been damaged and therefore no longer count. Her enthusiasm seems about to wane just as she finds fun, skilled tree people to go Champion hunting with; ironically, by now she seems happy just hiking. Join this very intelligent woman on her adventures!"

And finally, a final recommendation from Margaret Kennedy, a Boswellian who after this week will leave the shop to move onto her next opportunity - and we wish her all the luck in the world! But before she goes, she says you should read Witch King, the latest novel and a new direction from Murderbot creator Martha Wells. Margaret says: "Enter a fantastical new world of witches, wars, and demons of Martha Wells’ creation in the riveting new epic Witch King. Kai is a body-possessing demon prince, war hero, and Witch King, but he wasn’t always as infamous as he is now. When the war of generations passed was just starting, he was a simple nomad of the grassland people. Told in alternating chapters, the story follows Kai in the present as he unravels a conspiracy against him and the peace of the new coalition, and Kai in the past as he finds himself starting a rebellion against the power-hungry Hierarchs with the Prince Bashasa, and inadvertently changing the world. With witty dialogue and fast paced action, you will finish this book and be begging Wells for another set in this intricately layered world!"

Paperback picks? Yes indeed!

First up, Kay Wosewick suggests Florida Woman by Deb Rogers. Kay says: "A video gone viral titled 'Florida Woman' shows Jamie stealing dollar bills off the walls of the bar where she works, turning to find a pelican on fire near the door where it knocked over candles, then frantically charging out the door with the pelican in her arms. Jaime disappears for a couple of days. ‘Florida Woman’ indeed. Jaime gets a deal that sounds better than jail: serving her sentence working, ankle-cuffed, at a macaque sanctuary. There are monkey shenanigans, staff who get weirder by the day, and an end that will plaster a big smile on your face. Wacky fun."

David Sedaris's latest collection of personal essays, Happy-Go-Lucky, gets two Boswell recs. From Jen Steele: "David Sedaris offers a heartfelt and earnest new collection of essays that left me laughing one minute, agreeing with his astute observations and contemplative the next. If you have the chance, I recommend listening to the audiobook. It's like being at one of Sedaris's show, which is a completely unique experience."

And from Tim McCarthy: "Once again, David Sedaris lovingly, and with full frontal honesty, embraces the strange ironies of being human: the cold pandemic realities, the oddly positive final days of a tough relationship with his father, America demanding that Black Lives Matter, the fortress of love he’s built with his sisters and with Hugh. The shopping! The best thing about reading Happy-Go-Lucky is that it flows so fast. This is a credit to marvelous writing and storytelling. It's like canoeing a river and immediately knowing you won’t need the paddle. The current carries you, and if you don't run full speed into all the worldly snags and boulders put in your way, then you're just not on the right trip. So enjoy the ride and throw the paddle overboard. That endangered turtle you just cruised past will make better use of it."

Another Kay rec is next - Metropolis by BA Shapiro. Kay writes: "This clever, engaging, and twisty story is set in a gothic storage warehouse in Cambridge, MA. The book opens with news of a serious injury after someone falls down an elevator shaft. The warehouse is fascinating: two people live in their units, another uses it as an office, and a fourth moved the contents of her children's bedrooms there after the father unilaterally sent them to school in Switzerland. The residents' lives are entwined at the time of the accident and become more-so in the aftermath. As with Shapiro’s other books, there is a strong art/artist thread. The setting is picture-perfect for a thrilling story."

And those are the recs! We'll be back next week (next month, ay yi yi!) with more great books that we love. Until then, read on.

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