Friday, April 26, 2024

Staff Recommendations, Week of April 23, 2024

 A new week, a new round of recommending from the Boswellians. 

Daniel Goldin trots out first with Dogland: Passion, Glory, and Lots of Slobber at the Westminster Dog Show by Tommy Tomlinson: "I love subculture books, and being that my prior knowledge is based on repeated viewings Best in Show, I figured I had a lot to learn about competitive dog shows. Why are so many of us obsessed with in-bred dogs that are prone to hereditary diseases and shorter life-spans? How did the French Bulldog rocket to the top breed? Tomlinson looks at the history of dog domestication and breeding, and the etiquette and the strategy of showing. After a general overview, the story focuses on Striker, a Samoyed who is in contention for this year’s best in show. But don’t judge a book by its title; Striker was not likely to win titles by slobbering. By its conclusion, Dogland zooms back out to get at the heart of the canine-human connection. I dare you not to get all choked up, even if, like me, you are at least temporarily dogless."

Now here's Rachel Copeland on Funny Story, the latest from romcom queen Emily Henry: "Daphne thought she'd found her happily ever after; instead, she was just a footnote in the love story of her fiancé and his childhood best friend. With no friends or family nearby, she has no choice but to move in with the other person most affected by this predicament: Miles, the other jilted party. After a night of drinking and camaraderie, they agree to a simple scheme: Miles will introduce Daphne to all the delights of her new small town, and if their exes should see pictures of them on social media and get the wrong idea, well, that's just a bonus. Another excellent read from the queen herself! Once again, we are exploring serious themes, this time highlighting how difficult it is to make friends as an adult and how heartbreaking it is when parents don't measure up to our expectations. The heartbreak is tempered by Henry's signature charm - and yes, it is kind of a funny story."

Rachel Ross has got buckets of praise for Ocean's Godori by Elaine U Cho: "In her debut novel, Cho submerges readers in an atmospheric sci-fi world with lyrical prose. Boasting a spaceship full of compelling characters, Ocean’s Godori delves into their haunted pasts, explorations of identity, family expectations, and cultural ideologies. Watching this crew forge their tenuous connections into something more was as gratifying as the gripping action. I hope this is the first of many stories from Cho."

Gao Her now for Food School, a graphic novel by Jade Armstrong: "Jade Armstrong  creates a light-hearted atmosphere even when talking about more serious topics such as eating disorders. All of her characters, especially Olive, are relatable and feel like real people you know. Armstrong presents the narrative with easy-going comedy, charming illustrations, and dialogue that can be heard from young people today."

For futuristic fantasy fans, here is Jenny Chou on paperback original A Letter to the Luminous Deep by Sylvie Cathrall: "I am always on the lookout for charming novels about bookish introverts, and this mix of futuristic fantasy and mystery does not disappoint. There are, in fact, two bookish introverts, and they fall in love through correspondence! E. is (was?) a reclusive amateur naturalist and Henerey an academic. Unfortunately, both E. and Henerey are missing and presumed dead, and all that’s left behind besides their books are the letters they wrote to each other as they sought to solve an undersea mystery. A Letter to the Luminous Deep slips back and forth in time while E. and Henerey’s siblings in the present exchange the recovered letters of their lost sister and brother, trying to puzzle out what happened to them. Both mysteries become more and more curious as the novel progresses. Readers will love the twists and unexpected turns taken by the plot, and the ending! Book two can’t get here soon enough."

And from Oli Schmitz: "Sylvie Cathrall wraps cozy aquatic academia, strange abyssal mysteries, and deeply endearing characters into one delightful epistolary novel that is sure to reel you in. A fun and cozy science fiction/fantasy that pulls at your heartstrings!"

And how about a sentence on a new picture book from Jen Steele, who recommends Two Together, which is written and illustrated by Brendan Wenzel: "I loved this friendship tale! Wenzel illustrates the very distinct perspectives of Cat and Dog as they adventure home together."

Now we've got one paperback pick for you, courtesy of Chris Lee. He recommends The Late Americans by Brandon Taylor - this was Chris's top book of last year! Chris says: "Brandon Taylor’s novel invites us into the world of Iowa City’s fledgling writers, dancers, and artists as they squabble, scrap, hope, love, and fight their way toward self-knowledge in a country that doesn’t have much more to offer them than, at best, indifference and economic insecurity. Art and sex, full hearts and empty wallets. A perfectly titled novel (each character so late to so many different parties) that deeply understands the roiling emotional landscape of lives of ideas as they’re lived in precarity. Truly impressive."

And those are the recs! We'll see you right back here next week in this little corner of the internet with more books. Until then, read on.

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