Edmonds Booktalk: All things Russian and November events

By Elaine Mattson

I have a slight obsession with all things Russian. Mostly of the fancy Tsar-related era, not so much with the gritty ugly reality of the serfs and servants and common people of recent history. And getting to St. Petersburg [Russia, not Florida!] is on my list! This fascination mostly manifests itself as my reading everything I can get my hands on: fiction, non-fiction, fantastic coffee table books.

It seems I am not the only one, since there are always plenty of Russian-related books for me to read! Now in paperback is the new biography, “Catherine the Great: Portrait of a Woman” by Robert K. Massie, Pulitzer Prize-winning author of “Peter the Great: His Life and World.” Fascinating. A couple of my favorite novels have been set in and around St. Petersburg/Leningrad [name of the city depends on when in history we are!]: “City of Thieves” by David Benioff, set in WWII during the Nazis’ brutal siege of Leningrad; “The Madonnas of Leningrad” by Debra Dean, in which a woman’s memories take her back to the terrible fall of 1941. Much to my delight, Debra Dean has a brand new novel out this fall, “The Mirrored World,” set against the extravagant royal court of eighteenth-century St. Petersburg.

And, in case my plate was not full enough, there is a new movie version of “Anna Karenina” by Leo Tolstoy. Starring Keira Knightley and Jude Law. [wow!] The film premiered at the 2012 Toronto Film Festival, and is opening in limited U.S. release on Nov. 16. It is billed as a “new interpretation” of the story. I will have to break into my regularly scheduled stack of books, and go back to re-read the 1877 novel. What an adventure!

November Events at the Edmonds Bookshop.

Our Book Club book for Nov. 21. “West of Here” by Jonathan Evison. Set in the fictional town of Port Bonita, on Washington state’s rugged Pacific coast, this novel is propelled by a story that both re-creates and celebrates the American experience—it is storytelling on the grandest scale.

AND! We have picked our Book Club books for the first half of 2013. It’s a great list, featuring: 2 first novels; a Washington state author; a Pulitzer Prize-winning non-fiction title; an American classic; and a Man Booker Award-winning novel. Find all of the details on our Book Club page.

Nov. 10. Saturday at noon. Join us to welcome the author of “Building Hope: The First 25 years of Housing Hope,” David M. Buerge. Foreword by Edwin R. Petersen and Epilogue by William H. Gates, Sr.

The Housing Hope story unfolds over 25 years from church basements to the halls of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. It’s a story of local people who want to solve family homelessness and make a dent in the affordable housing crisis. From humble beginnings, the Building Hope chronicle portrays how a community comes together to make “stone soup.”

Nov. 17. Saturday at noon. We welcome Lisa Costantino, author of “Maiden’s Veil,” a novel weaving historical times with the present. An ancient fertility ritual has ramifications in the lives of two women.

Saturday, Nov. 24: Small Business Saturday! Join us shopping “small and local” in downtown Edmonds! The Saturday after Thanksgiving – it was so much fun last year! Make your list, check it at least twice, and let us help with the shopping! The town will be festive and decorated and the official Edmonds Tree Lighting happens at 5 p.m.!

Recent book releases of note:

For little kids. “This is Not My Hat” by Jon Klassen. From author of staff favorite “I Want my Hat Back,” comes further adventures of animals and hats, undersea this time!

“Short Nights of the Shadow Catcher: The Epic Life and Immortal Photographs of Edward Curtis” by Timothy Egan. One of the best non-fiction writers of our time takes on one of my favorite subjects.

“The Twelve: Book Two of The Passage Trilogy, A Novel” by Justin Cronin. Finally!

For middle grade readers. “Who Could That Be at This Hour?” (All the Wrong Questions) by Lemony Snicket and Seth. In a fading town, far from anyone he knew or trusted, a young Lemony Snicket began his apprenticeship in an organization nobody knows about. He began asking questions that shouldn’t have been on his mind. Now he has written an account that should not have been published, in four volumes that shouldn’t be read. This is the first volume, that really shouldn’t be read.

“Barefoot Contessa Foolproof: Recipes You Can Trust” by Ina Garten. Interview in the Seattle Times, before her appearance at Benaroya on 9/16/12. And a mini-review of her appearance here.

And coming later in November:

“Flight Behavior: A Novel” by Barbara Kingsolver. Set in a rural Tennessee that has endured unseasonal rain, the plot explores the effects of a bizarre biological event on a Bible belt community, and becomes a clarion call about climate change too lucid and vivid for even skeptics to ignore. Chosen as a Best Book of Fall 2012 by Publisher’s Weekly. Chosen for November IndieBound. Review in the Seattle Times. Nov. 6

For teen readers. “Days of Blood & Starlight: Daughter of Smoke and Bone” by Laini Taylor. Nov. 6

“Hallucinations” by Oliver Sacks. According to renowned neurologist Sacks, it’s pretty common to hallucinate. Writing with his signature mix of evocative description, probing curiosity, and warm empathy, Sacks once again draws back the curtain on the mind’s improbable workings. Chosen as a Best Book of Fall 2012 by Publisher’s Weekly. Nov. 6

“Eight Girls Taking Pictures” by Whitney Otto. From staff favorite author of “How To Make An American Quilt,” comes a brand new novel! Chosen for November IndieBound. Nov. 6

“The Marseille Caper” by Peter Mayle. Nov. 6

“National Geographic 125 Years: Legendary Photographs, Adventures, and Discoveries That Changed the World” by Mark Jenkins. Nov. 6

Teen readers. “Reached: Matched Trilogy Book 3” by Ally Condie. Nov. 13

“Thomas Jefferson: The Art of Power” by Jon Meacham. Nov. 13

“Sweet Tooth: A Novel” by Ian McEwan. In this stunning new novel, Ian McEwan’s first female protagonist since “Atonement” is about to learn that espionage is the ultimate seduction. Chosen for November IndieBound. Nov. 13

“Dear Life: Stories” by Alice Munro. A brilliant new collection of stories from one of the most acclaimed and beloved writers of our time. Nov. 13

For middle grade readers. “The Third Wheel: Diary of a Wimpy Kid, book 7” by Jeff Kinney. Nov. 13

“History of a Pleasure Seeker” by Richard Mason. In paperback! Chosen for November IndieBound. Nov. 13

“Notorious Nineteen: A Stephanie Plum Novel” by Janet Evanovich. Nov. 20

“Cold Days: A Novel of the Dresden Files” by Jim Butcher. Harry is alive!! Unfortunately, he’s not so sure that this is a good thing… It’s definitely not easier! Nov. 27

As always, check our website for all the latest in book news.

Happy reading!

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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