Tuesday, August 31, 2010

An Evening with the Warwick's Booksellers

On the night of August 24th, we hosted our annual Evening with the Warwick's Booksellers (or, Bookclub Recommendation Night, or, Bookclub Night, etc.) where six of our finest booksellers shared their favorite book picks of the season with all who cared to stop by and listen. In case you missed it, here are their selections, with a little personal flair from each of them: 

You can also listen to the audio podcast of the talk right here:

Heather:
Still Missing by Chevy Stevens - "Centered around an escaped kidnap victim and detailing her capture, incarceration, escape, and ongoing recovery, Still Missing is an engrossing read. It possesses wit that engages, suspense that thrills, and a twist, which will rock readers."

Juliet by Anne Fortier - "Juliet is the story of Julie Jacobs, a young woman who is drawn into the mysterious and very real world of Shakespeare’s most famous warring families - that's right, Romeo & Juliet. This is a fast-paced, intriguing story, which brought to mind other fabulous tales that intertwined two time periods and stories to make for one excellent novel, namely The Thirteenth Tale, The Eight, and Kate Mosse’s Labyrinth."

Saving CeeCee Honeycutt by Beth Hoffman - "This seemingly simple story of a newly motherless girl taken in by her great aunt is truly superb. It is both laugh out loud and cry in the dark, a multi-dimensional story wrapped in the façade of a light and easy read. This is one of those books that you put down, and then pick right back up because you must find someone else to read it and enjoy it with you."

Revolution by Jennifer Donnelly - "On sale October 12 - this is one of those books that sucks you in emotionally and rivets with its dramatic prose and utterly fantastic plot. The characters are brilliantly depicted and the research that went into describing the atmosphere and the horrors of the French Revolution is thorough and impressive. I cannot praise this novel enough."

John:
Medium Raw by Anthony Bourdain - "Who doesn't know Bourdain now? Medium Raw is his follow-up to Kitchen Confidential, the book that made you cringe a little bit about what might be happening in the kitchen of your favorite fine restaurant and inspired many to try eating the "nasty bits" of animals. Here is Bourdain once again: raw, nasty, exaggerating, cussing, and gifted with a fine palette and a pen to go with it. If nothing else, the chapter about Justo Thomas, the seafood butcher for Le Bernardin, wholly justifies reading this book."

Exploring Happiness by Sissela Bok - "Is happiness a worthy goal for a human life?  Should the pursuit of of fulfillment or moral virtue have a higher priority?  How can so many bad people be happy?  Does that raise problems for our ideas of the relationship of happiness to ethical action?  To what are we even referring when we refer to happiness?  Why is misery so much easier than happiness to put into words?  Brilliant philosopher and one of the masters of the "yes, but" question, Sissela Bok, raises and discusses these questions and others in this learned and pithy combination of intellectual history, cultural criticism, and philosophical exploration of happiness."

The Shallows: What the Internet is Doing to Our Brains by Nicholas Carr - "In The Shallows - an expansion of his controversial Atlantic article, "Is Google Making Us Stupid?" - Carr argues that as we spend more and more time using the internet, the more we lose are ability to concentrate and to engage in the kinds of thought associated with deep, focused contemplation. Although I am not entirely convinced by his arguments, I found this a truly thought-provoking read. Carr's account of technological transformation over time from the emergence of writing through the printing press through radio and tv to the internet is especially compelling. Lots of food for thought and discussion in this book!"

Wide Awake: A Memoir of Insomnia by Patricia Morrisroe - "Filled with humorous and revealing anecdotes, Patricia Morrisroe's memoir tells of her quest for sleep amidst the 32 billion-dollar-a-year sleep industry. We follow along as she explores behavior modification, drugs, artificial light, hypnosis, costly mattresses, music therapy, orthodontia, ice hotels, and more. A mix of reporting and memoir, this book should appeal to readers who have liked other works of immersive reporting such as, for example, Bill Buford's Heat or Mary Roach's Stiff."

Jim:
Labor Day by Joyce Maynard - "On Labor Day weekend Henry and his mother Adele befriend Ben in a shopping center parking lot and invite him to their home. Then they find out he’s an escaped felon.  Despite that, fatherless Henry and his mother are enamored with the man. This book caught me off guard with its poignant conclusion. Fine writing captures each character’s personalities and emotions."

Star Island by Carl Hiaasen - "Hiassen has said that his books are based on incidents that have happened in South Florida…or ones that will happen. Cherry Pye, a celebrity for being a celebrity, is so wasted most of the time that there is a professional look-alike who takes her place. One paparazzo chasing after Cherry Pye ends up kidnapping her look-alike by accident. What ensues is classic Hiassen, with such characters as Chemo (who has a weed whacker for a prosthesis,) and Skink, the former governor of Florida in hiding in the swamps, making an appearance when needed."

The Lotus Eaters by Tatjana Soli - "Only weeks before the fall of Saigon, photojournalist Helen Adams follows the tide of events as Americans and South Vietnamese flee the downfall of the city. I found this incredibly well told, as if I were accompanying characters throughout the tumult, A fictional war story with a personal perspective that is astonishing in its detail."

Every Last One by Anna Quindlen - "When the Latham family thinks they intimately know someone, a shocking and unexpected event dramatically changes this outlook. Quindlen’s is profound in her descriptions of the family’s transition from the ordinary to the extraordinary. Quindlen beautifully describes the interactions of family members as they struggle through their relationships. No one can prepare them for the trauma they will face within a few days. This is a remarkable addition to Anna Quindlen’s prolific writing career."


Julie:
One Day by David Nicholls - "Funniest book I read this summer! David Nicholls had me laughing out loud (which I rarely do) and at other times, feeling very sad for these characters. Em and Dex have a ‘one night stand’ on July 15th, 1988, their last day of college. The author takes you to July 15th for the next twenty years. Do they end up together? Do they fulfill those dreams and desires we all have when we’re just starting ‘life’?"

Let the Great World Spin by Colum McCann - "Best book I read this year. So well done! This book takes place in one day, the day the Phillip Petit walked between the twin towers in 1974. The towers, and Petit are the background to this poignant story of how ordinary people’s lives become extraordinary in their interactions with each other." (Winner of the 2009 National Book Award for Fiction.)

Every Man Dies Alone by Hans Fallada - "This book is not just another story about the Germans resistance to what was happening during WWII. This story takes hold of you and won’t let you go. Unbelievable to think this was written in only twenty-four days. It truly does make you feel 'This is how it was. This is what happened.'"

Wolf Hall by Hilary Mantel - "Told from Thomas Cromwell’s perspective, Hilary Mantel does a fabulous job of taking us to Henry VIII’s court, from the political intrigue that occurred to the ordinary daily routines in Cromwell’s family life. This is a historical feast with more meat than your average period romp."  (Winner of the 2009 Man Booker Prize.)

Rhonda:
The Natural Laws of Good Luck by Ellen Graf - "Ellen Graf, a sculptor living on a farm in upstate New York, decided to travel to China to meet her friend's brother. Almost immediately, in spite of a serious language barrier, they decided to marry. Was it lust or love at first sight? Neither. It was a leap of faith unlike anything I have ever read. Even better, this book is a true story. Graf 's memoir is a beautiful illustration of what those marriage vows of "For Better or Worse, For Richer or Poorer, In Sickness and In Health" really mean."

Summer at Tiffany by Marjorie Hart - "New York City in any decade is an exciting place to visit. If you could choose any decade, which would it be? As for me, I would choose the 1940’s – the classiest of all modern decades. Imagine my delight then, when I discovered this little gem of a book, Summer At Tiffany. This memoir recounts the summer of adventure Iowa natives Marjorie and her best friend Marty enjoyed as the first female pages at Tiffany. Mrs. Hart opens a door for you to step back and soak in all the glamour of that classy decade and New York City in her glory days."

Crazy for the Storm by Norman Ollestad - "Norman Ollestad was only 11 years old in 1979 when he, his father, his father’s girlfriend, and the pilot flying their small charter plane crashed into a California mountain during a blizzard. Only Norman survived. How did this young boy survive such a disaster? Mr. Ollestad tells his incredible story in a style reminiscent of Ernest Hemingway. I could not put this fascinating book down. Young Norman and his father will capture your imagination and admiration as well."

Unfinished Business by Lee Kravitz - "When Mr. Kravitz lost his job as a successful magazine editor, his sense of identity crumbled. Serendipity prevailed when he took a few days to sort through boxes of stored keepsakes and photos. It occurred to Mr. Kravitz that before he embarked on a new career search, he had to attend to mending fences in his family and friendships. This inspirational book documents his year long quest to resolve his “unfinished business."

Seth:
The Thousand Autumns of Jacob de Zoet by David Mitchell - "While this novel is a bit of a departure from Mitchell’s usual genre-bending fare (Cloud Atlas, Ghostwritten, Number9Dream) it is every bit as stunningly brilliant as his previous work and should act as his conduit to a much larger global readership and perhaps that elusive Booker Prize. (He's been nominated for the 4th time with this book.) The best endorsement I can offer is this: David Mitchell is my favorite author."

Super Sad True Love Story by Gary Shteyngart - "Shteyngart's (the author of Absurdistan) hilarious new novel is a vision of a dystopic, barely functionally illiterate future America filled with retail outlets like Assluxury.com, endless streaming video images on handheld mobile devices, and a crippling fear of the decaying stench of books.  Are we so far off from ending up like this?" (Gary's Warwick's Questionnaire)

American Rust by Philipp Meyer - "Meyer’s debut novel of bad decisions made in a dying Pennsylvania steel town is sad, powerful stuff. The jacket comparisons to Cormac McCarthy are not without merit, as Meyer’s sparse prose rings as true as hammer to anvil and the poor, life-defining choices made by the characters throughout are ripe for a Coen Brothers adaptation."  (A 2009 New York Times Notable book and winner of the 2009 LA Times Book Prize.)

The Tiger: A True Story of Vengeance and Survival by John Vaillant - "Vaillant weaves together the fascinating history of the Far East of Russia – an impoverished area essentially locked in a far-off time, even after the fall of the Iron Curtain – with the search for a remarkably intelligent, man-hunting Siberian tiger.  The moral herein: don't steal food from a tiger and if you shoot him, make sure he's dead. An absolutely incredible story that reads better than most fiction out there."

Everything Matters! by Ron Currie, Jr. - "The best book I read in 2009, now fresh out in paperback. How would you live your life if you were born the smartest person on the planet and had an all-knowing, all-seeing voice inside your head that told you that, without a shadow of a doubt, the world would end in a fiery comet collision around your 36th birthday?"

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