Edmonds Booktalk: Revisiting that summer reading list before fall arrives

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Elaine Mattson
Elaine Mattson

Welcome to September! I am in complete denial about the fact that we have reached my favorite month already. This year I have an excuse, I completely missed August due to a broken leg, surgery and now, recovery – still limping a bit, but, oh, so much better!

Since a good list is a good list no matter what anyone is calling it, or what time of year it appears, let’s take one more look at a few ‘recommended summer reading’ lists.

And we may as well start at the top.

The books in President Obama’s bag on the way to his summer vacation:

  • “Seveneves” by Neil Stephenson. Staff recommended. Bill Gates recommended. Latest amazing novel from the local prescient author.
  • “Barbarian Days: A Surfing Life” by William Finnegan, a Pulitzer Prize-winning memoir of the author’s lifelong obsession with surfing.
  • “The Underground Railroad” by Colson Whitehead. A novel that tells the story of Cora, a slave who makes an escape for freedom. It’s an Oprah book club pick.
  • “H is For Hawk,” by Helen Macdonald, a beautifully written memoir of how Macdonald dealt with the loss of her beloved father by training a goshawk.
  • “The Girl on the Train” by Paula Hawkins. Thriller in the vein of Hitchcock about a young British woman on a commuter train who sees something she shouldn’t.

And three memoirs [now in paperback] recommended by a book professional, critic Mary Ann Gwinn:

  • “My Life on the Road” by Gloria Steinem. In this vibrant narrative, Steinem tells the story of her worldwide wanderings – her far-flung assignments as a journalist, her years as a footloose political activist and her encounters with just plain folks.
  • “M Train” by Patti Smith. A memoir by a brilliant musician who has spent large chunks of her life traveling.
  • “Heart Earth” by Ivan Doig. Just reissued, this book is a companion volume to Seattle author Doig’s prizewinning memoir “This House of Sky.”

And the rest of us… What did we read this summer? Here is a list of the libraries’ most-requested books.

From KCLS:

  • “Truly, Madly, Guilty” by Liane Moriarty
  • “The Woman in Cabin 10” by Ruth Ware
  • “A Great Reckoning” by Louise Penny
  • “Night School” by Lee Child [coming November 7, 2016. People are planning ahead!]
  • “The Girls” by Emma Cline

From the Seattle Public Library:

Fiction titles:

  • “The Underground Railroad” by Colson Whitehead
  • “The Girls” by Emma Cline
  • “The Nest” by Cynthia d’Aprix Sweeney
  • “Truly, Madly, Guilty” by Liane Moriarty
  • “Before the Fall” by Noah Hawley

Nonfiction titles:

  • “Harry Potter and the Cursed Child” (this is listed as nonfiction because it’s a play, according to the library)
  • “Hillbilly Elegy” by J.D. Vance
  • “Shrill: Notes from a Loud Woman” by Lindy West
  • “The Girl with the Lower Back Tattoo” by Amy Schumer
  • “You’ll Grow Out of It” by Jessi Klein

Now you have lists. Stop in anytime, and we will help you choose!

September Events at The Edmonds Bookshop:

orchids-of-warSept. 15, 2016. 5-8 p.m. Third Thursday Art Walk. We welcome as our Third Thursday artist, Seattle resident and author, Denise Frisino and her new book, “Orchids of War.”

Set in 1941 Seattle, San Francisco and Hawaii, “Orchids of War” explores Japanese espionage and its impacts on the lives of all Americans. Suspenseful, packed with accurate details, and told through engaging characters, this book will alter your perceptions of World War II.

“Orchids of War” has been selected as a National Indie Excellence Award finalist in the Historical Fiction category.

Denise was born and raised in Seattle. She has won awards for her writing, acting and teaching. While her fascination with history planted the seed for this historical-fiction, it was her years of research, including numerous interviews, which brought to light the facts woven through her novel. More information on her website, here.

avengingSept. 17, 2016. Saturday at noon. We will welcome Melissa Hart, the author of the debut middle-grade [grades 5 – 8] novel, “Avenging the Owl.” Published April 5, 2016.

This is a story about staying true to yourself when things get tough. Solo has every reason to lash out, but he ultimately needs to find a way to cope. Avenging the Owl deals with the difficult issues of suicide and depression, but more than anything it captures the powerlessness of being a kid. It won’t be easy, but the wild beauty of Oregon, its cold, empty beaches and captivating wildlife, may be just what Solo and his family need to help them start over.

As well as reading from her debut novel, there will also be a family-friendly presentation about raptors, owls, and owl pellets.

“Melissa Hart’s presentation is fun and engaging for both children and adults. Her knowledge of raptors and owls is impressive and her enthusiasm is infectious. The addition of an owl pellet dissection to her book reading makes for an exciting, hands-on author event.”

For all kinds of great information, visit her website, MelissaHart.com.

September 2016 Book Club Book.

grandmotherSept. 21, 2016. “My Grandmother Asked Me to Tell You She’s Sorry” by Fredrik Backman.
A charming, warmhearted novel from the author of the New York Times bestseller “A Man Called Ove.”

Elsa is seven years old and different. Her grandmother is seventy-seven years old and crazy—as in standing-on-the-balcony-firing-paintball-guns-at-strangers crazy. She is also Elsa’s best, and only, friend. At night Elsa takes refuge in her grandmother’s stories, in the Land-of-Almost-Awake and the Kingdom of Miamas, where everybody is different and nobody needs to be normal.

It is a story about life and death and one of the most important human rights: the right to be different.

See more information on our Book Club page.

Recent book releases of note:
“The Glorious Heresies: A Novel” by Lisa McInerney. Winner of the 2016 Baileys Women’s Prize for Fiction for this debut novel. A searing novel about life on the fringes of Ireland’s post-crash society. Biting and darkly funny, it presents an unforgettable vision of a city plagued by poverty and exploitation, where salvation still awaits in the most unexpected places. Staff recommended.
“A Great Reckoning: A Chief Inspector Gamache Novel” by Louise Penny. When an intricate old map is found stuffed into the walls of the bistro in Three Pines, it at first seems no more than a curiosity. But the closer the villagers look, the stranger it becomes.

Books of note being released in September:
“Here I Am: A Novel” by Jonathan Safran Foer. Throughout this new novel, the author’s dark wit drops in zingers of dialogue, leavening his melancholy assessments of the loneliness of human relationships and a world riven by ethnic hatred. That he can provide such a redemptive denouement, at once poignant, inspirational, and compassionate, is the mark of a thrillingly gifted writer. September 6, 2016.
“A Gentleman in Moscow: A Novel” by Amor Towles. After the Communists sentence Count Alexander Rostov to house arrest, he makes a rich life for himself in a grand hotel near the Kremlin. Staff recommended from the author of “Rules of Civility.” September 6, 2016.
“Razor Girl” by Carl Hiaasen. This sequel to “Bad Monkey” offers fans of Hiaasen’s Florida novels the usual mix of crime and screwball comedy, plus Gambian pouched rats. September 6, 2016.
“Perfume River: A Novel” by Robert Olen Butler. The novel has obvious links to the Pulitzer Prize-winning 1992 collection, A Good Scent from a Strange Mountain, but its characters struggle to adapt to the dislocations caused not by war or geography but by time. September 6, 2016.
“Commonwealth” by Ann Patchett. Over several decades, the families in this story break up and recombine — and ultimately become fodder for a famous writer’s novel, which forces them to look at themselves afresh. September 13, 2016.
“Fates and Furies: A Novel” by Lauren Groff. This is a literary masterpiece that defies expectation. A dazzling examination of a marriage, it is also a portrait of creative partnership written by one of the best writers of her generation. President Obama’s favorite book of 2015, now in paperback. September 13, 2016.
“The Wonder “ by Emma Donoghue. Readers of historical fiction will gravitate to this tale set in 1850s Ireland by the author of “Room.” September 20, 2016.
“Born to Run” by Bruce Springsteen. The Boss has been writing about his life in his songs for decades, but this memoir, said to be in the works for seven years, will fill in some of the blanks, and the guy does have a way with words. September 27, 2016.
As always, check our website for all the latest in book news.

Happy reading!

— By Elaine Mattson

Edmonds native Elaine Mattson has worked at The Edmonds Bookshop off and on since she was 12 years old, and has also worked at a book wholesaler, a book publisher, and for the book publishing division of a large local software company (yes, that one). “I was raised a book lover [thanks, Mom!],” Mattson says. “We got book lights by our beds as soon as we were old enough to read. And then I probably got in trouble for reading too late the very next night. And I still read too late!”

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